Peace missions can benefit from civil groups input Annan tells Security Council

“I believe that Council members can benefit from the expertise, focus and insight which civil society groups bring to the table,” Mr. Annan said as the 15-member body began a debate on the issue.“The partnership between the United Nations and civil society is therefore not an option; it is a necessity,” he told the session chaired by Delia Domingo-Albert, Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, which currently holds the Council’s rotating presidency. For peacebuilding missions to be effective, Mr. Annan said, they should work with and strengthen those civil society forces that are helping ordinary people to voice their concerns, and to act on them effectively. “The aim must be to create a synergy with those civil society groups that are bridge-builders, truth-finders, watchdogs, human rights defenders, and agents of social protection and economic revitalization,” he said. Mr. Annan stressed that there should be a two-way dialogue between the UN and civil society – “not so one can direct the other, but to ensure that our efforts complement one another.” In that vein, civil society organizations should be included in the UN’s deliberative processes, including those of the Council, Mr. Annan said. He pledged to study a new report by a high-level panel examining the issue and urged Council members to consider the study’s recommendations as well. Also addressing the Council, the Secretary-General of CARE International, Denis Caillaux, said the rise of internal armed conflicts and complex emergencies makes it critical to help societies buffeted between armed conflict and natural calamities – effectively caught in geographical patchworks of technical peace but actual insecurity. He added that since half of all peace efforts faltered from the outbreak of local conflicts, it is essential that national peace agreements and peacekeeping mandates must reach to the heart of the local communities.Ian Martin, Vice President of the International Center for Transitional Justice, agreed that the voices of civil society must be heard when peace settlements were being negotiated and when missions to implement them were being planned. He said the effectiveness of UN peacebuilding hinged on the extent to which the Council would strengthen the alliance between the UN and civil society by conveying its expectations in this regard to the leaders of the missions it mandated, and by remaining alert to their response.

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